By Sam Conner
The second seeded Winslow Lady Bulldogs defeated the No. 7 Empire Lady Ravens 9-4 last Saturday in the Arizona State Division III Softball Championship Tournament at the Rose Mofford Complex in Phoenix. The win gave the Bulldogs a 28-1 record going into tonight’s (May 16) game against No. 14 Benson in the finals. Empire finished the season with a 29-5 record.
Richelyn Villanueva went the distance for the win, allowing four runs, only two of which were earned, on eight hits and no walks while fanning three.
Winslow took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a single by Halle Hayes and a double by Megan Lymer. Empire struck in the top of the third inning and took a 2-1 advantage on doubles by Tazia Hernandez, Kaelyn Smith and Gracie Taber. The Bulldogs regained the lead 3-2 in the bottom of the frame on a single by Hayes, a walk to Lymer and singles by Taylor Baca and Villanueva.
The fourth inning proved to be the decisive frame of the game as Empire scored twice for a 4-3 lead in the top of the inning only to see the Bulldogs plate six runs in the bottom of the frame for a 9-4 lead that wound up being the final score.
Empire scored when Jessica Perry reached on an error, Hernandez singled her home and stole second then scored on a single by Bailey Rominger. Winslow rallied when Hailee Branson, Hayes and Villanueva all singled, Lymer walked and there were two Empire errors.
Villanueva did not allow a baserunner in the last three innings to secure the victory.
Hayes led the Bulldogs at the plate with a three for four day. Renee Bollin was two or three. Villanueva was two for four. Branson was one for three. Baca and Lymer were both one for four.
The Bulldogs will play Benson at 7:30 on Field No. 4 of the Mofford Complex. No. 4 Snowflake will meet No. 1 Payson at 5:30 tonight, also on Field No. 4. The winners of the two games will play for the state championship at 7:45 p.m. on Saturday, May 17, on Field No. 1.